NYT Times Frenzy Over Imminent Steve Jobs Bio

JobsBookShotAfter Steve Jobs died, there were a few days when it seemed like every reporter on the New York Times payroll had been conscripted to write about the man. Encomia, reminiscences, and meditations filled page after page — at one point, the Jobsian deluge became so absurd that Nora Ephron parodied it, in a mock-solemn Times piece beginning with the sentence: "I, too, did not know Steve Jobs."

Now, the online Times has more-or-less simultaneously published three — three! — pieces about Walter Isaacson's official Steve Jobs bio, due Monday.

Road Making the iBio For Apple's Genius: A straight-ahead review from Janet Maslin. It is ceaselessly adulatory, both of the book's author and its subject.

As a biographer of Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, Mr. Isaacson knows how to explicate and celebrate genius: revered, long-dead genius. But he wrote “Steve Jobs” as its subject was mortally ill, and that is a more painful and delicate challenge. (He had access to members of the Jobs family at a difficult time.) Mr. Jobs promised not to look over Mr. Isaacson’s shoulder, and not to meddle with anything but the book’s cover. (Boy, does it look great.) And he expressed approval that the book would not be entirely flattering. But his legacy was at stake. And there were awkward questions to be asked. At the end of the volume, Mr. Jobs answers the question “What drove me?” by discussing himself in the past tense.

… Mr. Isaacson takes his readers back to the time when laptops, desktops and windows were metaphors, not everyday realities. His book ticks off how each of the Apple innovations that we now take for granted first occurred to Mr. Jobs or his creative team. “Steve Jobs” means to be the authoritative book about those achievements …

Road Steve Jobs Biography: A Scorecard of Put-Downs: A catalogue of the nasty things Jobs told his biographer about the broad range of people and institutions that bugged him. John Mayer makes the list, for some reason. So do Google, Microsoft, Intel, a former Apple exec, and Barack Obama:

At a meeting with the president in 2010, Mr. Jobs told Mr. Obama bluntly that he was going to be a one-term president, Mr. Isaacson says, and that he needed to be more friendly to businesses. Mr. Jobs told Mr. Isaacson he was disappointed in Mr. Obama because the president did not want to offend anyone, a quality that Mr. Jobs conceded he lacked.

Road Hints of Apple Plans In Jobs Book: Apparently, Jobs wanted to get into the textbook business.

If textbooks were given away free on iPads he thought the publishers could get around the state certification of textbooks. Mr. Isaacson said Mr. Jobs believed that states would struggle with a weak economy for at least a decade. “We can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money,” he told Mr. Isaacson.

Skeptic after skeptic made the mistake of underrating Steve Jobs, and Mr. Isaacson records the howlers who misjudged an unrivaled career. “Sorry Steve, Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work,” Business Week wrote in a 2001 headline. “The iPod will likely become a niche product,” a Harvard Business School professor said. “High tech could not be designed and sold as a consumer product,” Mr. Sculley said in 1987.

Mr. Jobs got the last laugh every time. “Steve Jobs” makes it all the sadder that his last laugh is over.


  1. Joe B. says

    So it turns out Steve Jobs is not a guy I would want to know or be friends with or even get along with at a cocktail party. He was just a corporate overlord that wanted to make his product as cheaply as he could even if it meant contractors setting quotas such that people would rather commit suicide than return to the factory floor another day.

    What is it exactly that he was looking for from American manufacturing if he told Obama the country needed to be more business friendly. Did he want the power to force his employees to live and work on the premises so he can control them? Was the tax break situation not advantageous enough for the Apple stores and the Cupertino HQ?

    Jobs also railed against the US education system yet did nothing to assist in its betterment. He was also a Randian failure philanthropically.

    (Think about Bill Gates’ charitable pursuits then think how you’ve never heard of anything named after Steve Jobs except for that thing you used to do from 8 until 5 that you no longer have.)

    Hope you’re all watching 60 Minutes tonight, should be an eye opener. I keep thinking of the ppl who were crying, CRYING, over the loss of the guy who made their phone. First of all he didn’t do it himself and second he probably wouldn’t like you if he knew you.

    Cry about your spouse and your family, cry over injustice and heartbreak. Don’t cry for Steve Jobs. On top of everything else tonight you’ll find out he probably didn’t need to die. His chosen course of alternative treatment, chosen because he considered the opening up of his body for surgery a violation, meant he didn’t get the correct treatment in time.

    Sorry to go on and on, this who Jobs thing has been festering in me since the announcement of his death.

  2. Michael Bedwell says

    Go, Brandon!!! Though you might want to start wearing a bulletproof vest. Which leads me to this intriguing query:

    As there’s likely to be a lot of “crossover,” how would the Obambots have reacted had he ignored JOBS’ death?

    Cue Jobsbots claiming that he donated $100,000 to fight Prop 8 in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6….

    [NB: HE—unlike Google’s Sergey Brin and other straights Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg—DIDN’T: the corporation did—out of over $4 BILLION they cleared that year.]

  3. MikeH says

    “If textbooks were given away free on iPads he thought the publishers could get around the state certification of textbooks.” WTF? So let’s circumvent state oversight on what is taught (the wingnuts I’m sure would love this, there goes that nasty gay friendly California law)… and of course it means that all the students are using iPads – of course the benefit to Apple would just be a curious coincidence. Really? Wow, that Steve Jobs was a saint – looking out for the little guy and just trying to help humanity. NOT! He was a shrewd business man who manipulated the system for the betterment of his company (and ego). Apple technology is not better – it’s just superior marketing. IOS is built off of BSD Unix – which he got for free. He didn’t use Linux because he didn’t want to share any contributions back to the community. I could go on and on… this is just beyond ridiculous.

  4. Robert in NYC says

    I don’t know which freedoms Jobs was asking Obama to free up for businesses. Glass-Steagall was demolished back in the 90s which practicaly destroyed regulation of the financial services industry, the very vehicle which led to the global meltdown and the Wall Street debacle. Had Glass-Steagall remained, we probably wouldn’t be in the economic mess we’re in already.

  5. everette says

    i’m tired of hearing about him. someone wake me up when apple starts making products in the U.S. it doesn’t take a genius to realize that unix is a stable, reliable, workhorse operating system.

  6. says

    I wrote the first comment here early this morning and only came back hesitantly to see who was wishing me dead.

    Apparently I’m totally off base on this, no complaints about what I said at all.


  7. says

    So it turns out Joe B. is not a guy I would want to know or be friends with or even get along with at a cocktail party.

    “a Randian failure philanthropically.”

    Yes, because what’s really important is not that he spent his life doing what he loved and creating great things that make our lives easier and otherwise better in ways we could never have imagined. What’s important is that he didn’t give away enough of the incredible wealth that he created to satisfy your idea of the appropriate level of sacrifice.

  8. says

    “Randian” alert: “[F]ar from holding up the great producers as moral exemplars, we lump them in with the Al Capones and the Bernie Madoffs as people who must be stopped or at least shackled until they learn to selflessly serve others. Even Jobs was criticized because he devoted his life to Apple rather than philanthropy. This perverse attitude has led us to deny creative heroes like Jobs the third thing we owe them: freedom.”


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